Whilst a spin in Qualifying put Richard Verschoor on the backfoot to begin with, he proved that while he was down, he was far from out in Jeddah. With nothing to lose from P20 in the Feature Race, the Van Amersfoort Racing driver gave the alternate strategy a shot and flexed his overtaking muscles to bring home an impressive P6 finish.
Follow the Dutch racer’s thoughts throughout a rocky Round 2 and how resilience, grit and a strong determination to never give up are the ingredients to making your own luck in Formula 2.
“The track again is very nice. I really like to drive on this circuit. The steering was a bit more heavy than we thought it would be, so that’s something to work on for Qualifying. I think it was a decent session, I was building up the pace, but mainly from my feeling I was struggling in Sector 1 because I just couldn’t turn the wheel. We have to work on that for Quali, but I enjoyed it at least.
“In FP, you really cannot say anything from the results, but it’s more important to have a good feeling and if like it was, the feeling was not great, to know which way to go. We are working on that now and hopefully we’ll get it right for Quali, but I have a good feeling about it.
“It’s nice working with VAR. As I said before, it’s a bit easier to get to know everyone because most of them are Dutch and I’m Dutch, so to speak in our own language is easy. Still, to really get to know the people around you, you need to have a bit more ups and downs. The relationships are getting better and it’s mainly important to understand each other when giving feedback on the car and in stressful situations, to get out of it in a good way. So, we’re working on that and then there’s a lot to be improved, but I’m sure we’re going in the right direction.
“I mainly told Juan (Manuel Correa) before that it was very heavy! I said it like 100 times, and he said I’m right now after the first Free Practice. Of course, I tried to give him a bit of my experience and I think that in the end, you just have to experience it because it’s a special track.
“Quali will be different circumstances again, supersoft tyres for the first time this year, so will be exciting. I think it will be a great feeling after Qualifying, hopefully if it’s a good lap. I remember last year when I put it on P2, the feeling you get after you put a good lap in on this track is amazing, so I want to have that again.
“Definitely look forward to running the supersofts, I think this year we have much more occasions where we’ll run them. First of all, they look amazing! I’m not sure if it looks good with the orange, but from seeing them, they look good. They’re very, very grippy, so it’s also interesting to see how they will last in the race.“
“It was a very short session to be honest! The first push was decent, I think it was P6 or something. Then the second push was improving by half a second, I wanted to be on it straightaway from the beginning and for the feeling, I overdid it. If I look at the data, I didn’t, so I don’t really know what happened. I know that we were quite on the edge with the balance, but it was just a mistake from my side in the end, so it ended my day early.
“You never know from the front how the race goes. It can be like last year in the Sprint that there’s many Safety Cars, then there’s no way to fight back. I think there’s more chance in the Feature Race on Sunday, so I think tomorrow I just have to try to get some information for the team and myself on how the tyres degrade. I think I have to be a bit lucky to score some points this weekend, I think it will be very difficult.
“It’s hard, especially because the only one you want to blame is yourself and it’s sometimes hard to cope with that. You basically throw away your whole weekend, which you’ve been preparing for in the sim, mentally and physically in the gym. You throw it away by one small mistake in Qualifying, so you really want to hit your head to the wall if something like that happens, but it’s all about how you fight back. I can be depressed or very sad, but it doesn’t help me. I know that we can do it, I know we had the potential to be in the top three in Qualifying, so I have to keep the positive mind.
“First of all tomorrow, my eyes will be on the 19 cars in front of me, so a lot of things to look out for. If I can make up some positions, I think I should be realistic as well. If we can get into the top 15, I think it will be a good race, but of course it doesn’t really change if you’re P9 or P21 – it's zero points.”
“To be honest, I was a bit of a sitting duck behind all the cars in the DRS train. I don’t really know how our pace looked, I just saw us closing in on a lot of the guys in front that were stuck in the train with a bit of a slower car in front. I’m not sure how we’re looking, I’m sure that we can improve the car for tomorrow, it’s really something that we need to do, but it was a bit of a boring race.
“When there’s a Safety Car everybody comes together, so then there’s a DRS train again. The gaps were not super big, I think people were more or less on the same pace. For me in P16, I was just following, I couldn’t really do much.
“You can predict it up front. It’s going to be difficult to start from P20, you should not expect something amazing to happen in a Sprint Race. Tomorrow, we have a bit more chance with the strategy. However, I think the supersofts won’t last very long, so I think that it’s very risky to start on the harder compound of tyres because once there’s a Safety Car in the beginning, you lose 30 seconds in the pit stop. So, it’s risky to do the alternative strategy, so we need to see if we want to take this risk or not.
“I am a risk taker, but there is a certain level of risk where it’s not common sense. At some point you have common sense, and you just know that it’s not worth the risk. Last year we all expected Safety Cars and in the end, we ended up doing a Feature Race which was completely green.
“The goal is to score points, but I think it’s the goal of the other 22 drivers as well, so we’ll have to see how that goes. I’m sure we can make up some places, it just depends a bit on all the things that happen on track if we can score some points.
“One thing I’ll take away from this weekend is that I should not mess up in Qualifying. That’s the only thing I learnt this weekend, especially on the first set. It shouldn’t have happened and for the rest, if you drive in P16, you don’t learn much in the race, so it’s just enjoyable. However, it doesn’t matter where you drive, it’s a very enjoyable track for us to race at and I hope tomorrow we have a bit more of a green race to fight a bit more on pure pace.”
“The start was not good – luckily, there were not so many people behind me, so not many people passed me. Then I had decent opening laps, didn’t really win anything just one position back that I’d lost at the start. From there, I just tried to settle down, wait for the people on the options to box because I think that was our strategy to wait for that, praying for no Safety Car in the beginning.
“To be honest as soon as the people on the options boxed, I had a free track. I decided to overtake two or three people and I think the pace was very strong. We improved the car massively compared to yesterday and I could make up a lot of space compared to the people in front of me, almost even catching (Arthur) Leclerc who was like eight seconds in front. It was a good pace on the mediums and that’s what in the end made our race.
“With the strategy, it was quite difficult because we were seeing what the cars in front of us were doing and then on the grid, there were only four people. So, it was either going on the option and trying to overtake those people or trying to do the opposite and hope for no Safety Car at the beginning. I’m happy we took the decision to go on the alternative strategy because we were very quick.
“I think that I can be proud of the race I did today and also, thanks to the team for giving me a good car because in the end, we have worked towards this from Qualifying onwards. I think we were a tiny bit lost after FP even though we were quite fast, so I’m really happy with this comeback – eight points. It’s important to always score the points and it didn’t look like we were going to today, so I’m really happy to have eight points in the pocket.
“Sometimes there’s a bit of small disagreements, which in the end means you will just get to know the team better if you have them. You also understand how people work in more difficult times and in terms of setup as well, it’s very important to be well with your engineer. In the end, I’m happy that we scored some points and to get away also with a better relationship with the team.
“I look back on this weekend as very positive, I think we made the best out of it. I’m really happy also to have a bit of a better idea of how I like to drive the car and I think the team also has a better idea about this. Eight points – it's very important to score points and even in bad weekends, which this time I made my own bad weekend in Qualifying, so make up for that in the race, I’m very happy about that.”
“Ahead of Melbourne, I’m looking just to push – don't spin in Qualifying would be a good start! The track’s new for everybody, so I think everyone will have some issues in FP, not sure if they are on the right track or not. I think we have to stay calm whatever happens in FP, try to finish the run, no silly mistakes and just enjoy the track because I think it’s going to be amazing.”